The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality, Volume 1

Towards Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexity

Edited by Alena Ledeneva


ISBN: 9781911307907

Publication: January 17, 2018

Series: Fringe

What is this?

Alena Ledeneva invites you on a voyage of discovery, to explore society’s open secrets, unwritten rules and know-how practices. Broadly defined as ‘ways of getting things done’, these invisible yet powerful informal practices tend to escape articulation in official discourse. They include emotion-driven exchanges of gifts or favours and tributes for services, interest-driven know-how (from informal welfare to informal employment and entrepreneurship), identity-driven practices of solidarity, and power-driven forms of co-optation and control. The paradox, or not, of the invisibility of these informal practices is their ubiquity. Expertly practised by insiders but often hidden from outsiders, informal practices are, as this book shows, deeply rooted all over the world, yet underestimated in policy. Entries from the five continents presented in this volume are samples of the truly global and ever-growing collection, made possible by a remarkable collaboration of over 200 scholars across disciplines and area studies.

By mapping the grey zones, blurred boundaries, types of ambivalence and contexts of complexity, this book creates the first Global Map of Informality. The accompanying database is searchable by region, keyword or type of practice, so do explore what works, how, where and why!

Praise for The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality

'This unique work collaborates with more than two hundred scholars across the globe, illustrating how informal practices are deeply embedded across the planet, playing a crucial role in truly “getting anything done” while still remaining underestimated in policy-making procedures and business life. The book puts international human behavior into perspective, and is wholly mesmerizing.'
Philly Biz Leaders’ Must-Read Books of 2018, Philadelphia Magazine

The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality represents the beginning of a new era in informality studies. With its wealth of information, diversity, scope, theoretical innovation and artistic skill, this collection touches on all the aspects of social and cultural complexity that need to be integrated into policy thinking.’
Predrag Cvetičanin, Centre for Empirical Cultural Studies of South-East Europe, Belgrade, Serbia

‘This is a monumental achievement – an indispensable reference for anyone in the social sciences interested in informality.’
Martin Holbraad, Professor of Social Anthropology, UCL, and editor-in-chief of Social Analysis

‘This impressive work helps us understand our complex times by showing how power develops through informal practices, mobilizing emotional, cognitive and relational mechanisms in strategies of survival, but also of camouflage and governance.’
Donatella della Porta, Director of Centre of Social Movements Studies, Scuola normale superiore, Firenze, Italy

‘An impressive, informative, and intriguing collection. With evident passion and patience, the team of 250 researchers insightfully portrays the multiplicity of informal and often invisible expressions of human interdependence.’
Subi Rangan, Professor of Strategy and Management, INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France

‘This compendium of terms used in different cultures to express aspects of informal economy provides a unique supplement to studies of a major (yet understated by academic economics) social issue. It will be of key significance for in-depth teaching of sociology, economics and history.’
Teodor Shanin, OBE Professor and President of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences

 ‘Modern states have sought to curb, control and subdue informality. The entries in the Global Encyclopaedia demonstrate the endurance of informality over such efforts. More recently, the rise and political success of anti-establishment movements in so many parts of the world is a wide-ranging challenge and delegitimisation of national and transnational formal institutions of governance. Understanding the perceived shortcomings of formal institutions and the appeal of anti-establishment movements must at least in part be informed by a study of informality and its networks. This Encyclopaedia is essential reading if we wish to understand and engage with these challenges of our age.’
Fredrik Galtung,Chairman, Integrity Action

Alena Ledeneva is Professor of Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of UCL. She is an internationally renowned expert on informal governance in Russia. Her research interests centre on corruption, informal economies, economic crime, informal practices in corporate governance, and the role of networks and patron-client relationships in Russia and around the globe. Her books, including How Russia Really Works: Informal Practices in the 1990s (2006) and Can Russia Modernize? Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance (2013) have become must-read sources in Russian studies and social sciences.

PART I Redistribution

The substantive ambivalence: relationships vs use of relationships

Preface by Alena Ledeneva  

1 Neither gift nor commodity: the instrumentality of sociability

Introduction: economies of favours by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

1.1 Blat (Russia) by Alena Ledeneva

1.2 Jeitinho (Brazil) by Fernanda de Paiva

1.3 Sociolismo (Cuba) by Matthew Cherneski

1.4 Compadrazgo (Chile) by Larissa Adler Lomnitz

1.5 Pituto (Chile) by Dana Brablec Sklenar

1.6 Štela (Bosnia and Herzegovina) by Čarna Brković and Karla Koutkova

1.7 Veza (Serbia) by Dragan Stanojevic and Dragana Stokanic

1.8 Vrski (Macedonia) by Justin Otten

1.9 Vruzki (Bulgaria) by Tanya Chavdarova

1.10 Natsnoboba (Georgia) by Huseyn Aliyev

1.11 Tanish-bilish (Uzbekistan) by Rano Turaeva

1.12 Guanxi (China) by Mayfair Yang

1.13 Inmaek/Yonjul (South Korea) by Sven Horak

1.14 Tapş (Azerbaijan) by Leyla Sayfutdinova

1.15 Agashka (Kazakhstan) by Natsuko Oka

1.16 Zalatwianie (Poland) by Paulina Pieprzyca

1.17 Vitamin B (Germany) by Ina Kubbe

1.18 Jinmyaku (Japan) by Sven Horak

1.19 Jaan-pehchaan (India) by Denise Dunlap

1.20 Aidagara (Japan) by Yoshimichi Sato

1.21 Amici, amigos (Mediterranean and Latin America) by Christian Giordano

Conclusion: managing favours in a global economy by Sheila M. Puffer and Daniel J. McCarthy

2 Neither gift nor payment: the sociability of instrumentality

Introduction: vernaculars of informality by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

125 2.1 Okurimono no shûkan (Japan) by Katherine Rupp

2.2 Songli (China) by Liang Han  

2.3 Hongbao (China) by Lei Tan

2.4 L’argent du carburant (sub-Saharan Africa) by Thomas Cantens

2.5 Paid favours (UK) by Colin C. Williams

2.6 Egunje (Nigeria) by Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju

2.7 Baksheesh (Middle East, North Africa and sub-continental Asia) by James McLeod-Hatch

2.8 Magharich’ (Armenia) by Meri Avetisyan

2.9 Kalym (Russia) by Jeremy Morris

2.10 Mita (Romanian Gabor Roma) by Péter Berta

2.11 Pozornost’/d’akovné/všimné (Slovakia) by Andrej Školkay

2.12 Biombo (Costa Rica) by Bruce M. Wilson and Evelyn Villarreal Fernández

2.13 Mordida (Mexico) by Claudia Baez-Camargo

2.14 Coima (Argentina) by Cosimo Stahl

2.15 Chorizo (Latin America) by Evelyn Villarreal Fernández and Bruce M. Wilson

2.16 Aploksne/aploksnīte (Latvia) by Iveta Kažoka and Valts Kalnins

2.17 Fakelaki (Greece) by Daniel M. Knight

2.18 Cash for access (UK) by Jonathan Webb

2.19 Korapsen (Papua New Guinea) by Grant W. Walton

2.20 Bustarella (Italy) by Simona Guerra

2.21 Dash (Nigeria and other West African countries) by Daniel Jordan Smith

Conclusion: ‘interested’ vs ‘disinterested’ giving: defining extortion, reciprocity and pure gifts in the connected worlds by Florence Weber

Part II: Solidarity

The normative ambivalence of double standards: ‘us’ vs ‘them’

Preface by Alena Ledeneva

3 Conformity: the lock-in effect of social ties

Introduction: group identity and the ambivalence of norms by Eric Gordy

Kinship lock-in

3.1 Adat (Chechnya) by Nicolè M. Ford

3.2 Ch’ir (Chechnya and Ingushetia) by Emil Aslan Souleimanov

3.3 Uruuchuluk (Kyrgyzstan) by Aksana Ismailbekova

3.4 Rushyldyq (Kazakhstan) by Dana Minbaeva and Maral Muratbekova-Touron

3.5 Yongo (South Korea) by Sven Horak

3.6 Kumstvo (Montenegro and the Balkans) by Klavs Sedlenieks

3.7 Azganvan popokhutyun (Armenian diaspora in Georgia) by Anri Grigorian

3.8 Wantoks and kastom (Solomon Islands, Melanesia) by Gordon Leua Nanau

3.9 Bapakism (Indonesia) by Dodi W. Irawanto

Closed community lock-in

3.10 Krugovaia poruka (Russia and Europe) by Geoffrey Hosking

3.11 Janteloven/Jantelagen (Scandinavia) by Morten Jakobsen

3.12 Hyvä Veli (Finland) by Besnik Shala

3.13 Old boy network (UK) by Philip Kirby

3.14 Klüngel (Germany) by Lea Gernemann

3.15 Vetterliwirtschaft/Copinage (Switzerland) by Lucy Koechlin

3.16 Tal (alt. taljenje, taliti, utaliti, rastaliti) (Serbia and countries of former Yugoslavia) by Danko Runić

3.17 Mateship (Australia) by Bob Pease

Semi-closed lock-in 277 3.18 Sitwa (Poland) by Piotr Koryś and Maciej Tymiński

3.19 Barone universitario (Italy) by Simona Guerra

3.20 Keiretsu (Japan) by Katsuki Aoki

3.21 Kanonieri qurdebi (Georgia) by Alexander Kupatadze

3.22 Silovye Gruppirovki (Bulgaria) by Igor Mitchnik

3.23 Omertà (Italy) by Anna Sergi

3.24 Nash chelovek (Russia) by Åse Berit Grødeland and Leslie Holmes

Modern and youth solidarities

3.25 Birzha (Georgia) by Costanza Curro

3.26 Dizelaši (Serbia) by Elena G. Stadnichenko

3.27 Normalnye patsany (Russia) by Svetlana Stephenson

3.28 Futbolna frakcia (Bulgaria) by Kremena Iordanova

Conclusion: organic solidarity and informality – two irreconcilable concepts? by Christian Giordano

Bibliography to Chapter 3

4 The unlocking power of non-conformity: cultural resistance vs political opposition

Introduction: the grey zones between cultural and political by Peter Zusi

4.1 Artistic repossession (general) by Christina Ezrahi

4.2 Magnitizdat (Russia) by James Taylor 342 x

4.3 Roentgenizdat (Russia) by James Taylor 346 4.4 Samizdat (USSR) by Jillian Forsyth

4.5 Materit’sya (Russia) by Anastasia Shekshnya

4.6 Padonki language (Russia) by Larisa Morkoborodova

4.7 Verlan (France) by Rebecca Stewart

362 4.8 Avos’ (Russia) by Caroline Humphrey

4.9 Graffiti (general) by Milena Ciric

4.10 Hacktivism (general) by Alex Gekker

Conclusion: ambiguities of accommodation, resistance and rebellion by Jan Kubik

Bibliography to Chapter 4

Concluding remarks to Volume 1: what is old and what is new in the dialectics of ‘us’ and ‘them’? Zygmunt Bauman



Philly Biz Leaders’ Must-Read Books of 2018: 'This unique work collaborates with more than two hundred scholars across the globe, illustrating how informal practices are deeply embedded across the planet, playing a crucial role in truly “getting anything done” while still remaining underestimated in policy-making procedures and business life. The book puts international human behavior into perspective, and is wholly mesmerizing.'

  Philadelphia Magazin

Format: Open Access PDF

ISBN: 9781911307907

Publication: January 17, 2018

Series: Fringe

Scroll to top